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A Pilot for a Show about Nowhere (2015)

Martine Syms

two-channel video, colour, sound

Leeds Art Gallery

A Pilot for a Show about Nowhere (2015)



Moving Image


Two-channel video


24: 29 minutes


Presented by Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society (VN XX CAS), 2016/17

Ownership history:

Purchased from the Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York by Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society, 9 December 2016; presented to Leeds Art Gallery, January 2017
A major work by LA-based artist Martine Syms was gifted to Leeds Art Gallery in 2016 through the Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society (VNXXCAS) initiative. This scheme encourages debate on the gender imbalance in museum collections by donating work of a living female artist to a UK museum each year.

Syms works in publishing, performance, video, essay and photography. The artist often juxtaposes her own voice or appearance with found footage from the Internet, film and TV – particularly sitcoms – to probe linguistic and visual representation of gender and African-Americans in the mass media.

The video A Pilot for a Show About Nowhere (2015) was originally commissioned by the New Museum in New York. It gives a pastiched history of the depictions of African Americans in television, incorporating footage from a number of sources, such as The Cosby Show. Black sitcoms in the United States hold the potential to break down widely held preconceptions. At the same time, they often erase the struggles and realities of the people they represent. The work is a pilot for an imagined sitcom by Syms called She Mad, and re-enactments of the artist’s life ground the film in her own biography. Her appropriation of footage from American sitcoms, combined with a sophisticated take on twenty-first century social media communication gives her a very distinct voice hat has not yet been seen in museums in the UK.

All rights reserved. Any further use will need to be cleared with the rights holder. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only. Commercial copying, hiring, lending is prohibited. The collection that owns this artwork may have more information on their own website about permitted uses and image licensing options.

For further information, please consult our section of our copyright policy.

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